Mass opens to non-resident s/s marriages, employers chafe at DoMA

by on July 30, 2008  •  In DoMA, Marriage

UPDATE: Gov. Patrick has signed the bill into law.

Massachusetts will soon become the second state in which non-resident same-sex couples can marry. One reason the 2004 Goodridge decision has had relatively little spillover effect, legally, around the country is that a 1913 state law prohibited marriage in Massachusetts by out-of-staters if their marriage was not allowed under their home state’s law. It was a left-over from the era of anti-miscegenation laws, part of a wave of statutes enacted in the wake of a national scandal over the marriage of African-American boxer Jack Johnson and a white woman.  Hmm… reactionary panic after public transgression of sexualized social hierarchy produces repressive laws that legislators even decades later are gunshy about repealing — seems like I’ve heard that story somewhere else …

Bay Windows – New England’s largest GLBT newspaper

House passes 1913 law repeal in roll call vote
by Ethan Jacobs

The bill to repeal the 1913 law is on its way to Governor Deval Patrick, who [has announced that he] will sign it into law. The bill cleared a final hurdle Tuesday afternoon, when the House of Representatives passed the bill on a roll call vote after about 45 minutes of debate. The vote was 118-35, with five members not voting….


A key factor in the debate was apprehension about lost revenue for the state if California had a monopoly on the s/s marriage market. An economic analysis from the Williams Institute made the case.

Meanwhile, employers are finding that it’s a lot more efficient to just go ahead and extend marital benefits to same-sex couples rather than to have two systems. Only problem is — they can’t.  Under DoMA, federal tax provisions prevent a simple unitary model, because recognition of s/s marriages is prohibited for purposes of any federal law.

So, what’s shaping up here is the business case for recognizing s/s marriages on the same terms as other marriages. Within a few years, this ought to include business support for repeal of at least Section 3 of DoMA.  The California energy utility PG&E has just donated $250,000 to the campaign to stop Prop 8, which would amend that state’s constitution to bar s/s marriage. If that initiative is defeated, as early polls indicate is likely, the next stop for the <business reason for non-discrimination> argument is Congress.


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